The Loneliness of It All - Part 3

What happens when the betrayed is lonely?

If you’re just joining us, we’re discussing the loneliness of it all and the need for community. Last time we delved into the world of the unfaithful and what happens when they are lonely or isolated in their recovery. This time we’ll discuss the mind of the betrayed and what they typically resort to when loneliness and isolation seem to envelop them.

When the betrayed are lonely and isolated it’s incredibly difficult to not flood emotionally or give way to what appears to be an endless amount of reminders and triggers and intrusive thoughts. Keep in mind, triggers unfortunately are part of the horror of recovery, but will dissipate typically between 9 to 12 months depending on the personality type of the betrayed. Rick has discussed the fact that the betrayed, depending on your personality make up, may encounter between 80 and 110 different reminders and triggers every single day. It also takes about 1/200th of a second to flood emotionally. The triggers simply happen too fast to try and prevent them from happening. Without a sense of safe community surrounding the betrayed, it’s incredibly difficult to not lash out and flood at any given moment.  Lashing out is something that comes relatively easy to the betrayed when emotions are running ragged and they are attempting to connect with their spouse. Yes, you heard me correctly. It’s not uncommon at all for the betrayed to lash out at their mate, when really, behind the scenes, they are attempting to connect with their mate and bond. (It’s one of the hardest facets of recovery for an unfaithful to understand, yet if the betrayed didn’t want to connect they would simply ignore them and disconnect altogether). Yet, it’s when their emotions are leading the conversation and driving the communicative patterns that trouble begins to arise, while also understanding the fact that if the unfaithful isn’t aware of how to help the betrayed when they flood, chaos ensues. Emotional conversations are normal, as in this season of emotional carnage, it’s almost impossible to not have emotional conversations. However, what is essential is being able to eventually cultivate rational emotional conversations. I know what you’re probably saying: impossible. Not if the right help is sought after and that’s a promise. 

Betrayed spouses also have to fight the war against self-pity. When resisting self-pity, betrayed spouses need a sense of courage to face the day, what seems like almost each and every day. There is an endless amount of opportunity to feel sorry for themselves and unlike the unfaithful, most onlookers will feel sorry for the betrayed. After all, they are the true victim in all of this. However, while on the road to recovery, self-pity seeks to cloud objectivity while also creating a roadblock to getting help and establishing momentum in personal restoration. Betrayed spouses also find it hard to have any sense of vision for what their marriage could be down the road without community. When isolated and feeling as though they are out on an island of hopelessness and paralysis, there isn’t any vision for restoration when you’re alone in your crisis. There just isn’t any model for what their marriage may be restored to. Community, as well as those who have survived and found healing, is a much needed wind to the sails of the betrayed. A vision-less recovery is drudgery.  

I’ll never forget when we attended our own EMS Weekend. Samantha and I were on a break and took a walk to decompress a bit and get some fresh air. I simply said “well, how are you doing?” She said “it feels good to know I’m not the only one. That there are others who are struggling with their own hurt and pain. Some worse. Some better.”  It was perspective. It was that feeling of strange comradery that she (and I) were not the only ones struggling with this hellish nightmare that I, the unfaithful, had created for us. Yes, I had to own it. Samantha was incredibly humble and precious at the same time as she was cautiously willing to at the very least, see what potential there was for healing and restoration to our marriage and our family. We made a decision to not make any decisions until we received the proper help. Until we found other hurting individuals and a mentor couple at the EMS Weekend, we had no vision for recovery. We had no idea what a ‘healed marriage’ looked like,  sounded like and felt like. We had no perspective and we had no clue from books, articles or rumors of those who made it and those who didn’t. We needed vision. We needed a protocol. We needed others who we could lean on and those that could lean on us periodically as well.

The betrayed also have to guard against their own vengeance upon the unfaithful. From punishing them emotionally and verbally to lashing out, to hating them in their heart, the betrayed must guard against such emotions as they only stall recovery and create more roadblocks to overcome. Samantha hated me for my actions. She despised my double life and wanted me to suffer. It was understandable at every level. She didn’t have an affair of her own, but unfortunately, you’d be surprised at just how many betrayed spouses end up having affairs of their own. For those unfaithful who do not receive expert help, close to 30% of them have revenge affairs. You may say it’s only 30%, but it’s incredibly tempting for many betrayed who even at the onset of betrayal say, “I’ll never have an affair like them.”

Isolation is a breeding ground for dysfunction and despair. It just is. With limited perspective comes limited hope. With limited expertise, comes limited growth and healing along with exacerbated communicative dysfunction and cause for perpetual offense. When expert help and community are sought out, the entire process breathes a breath of fresh air and movement happens. 

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Yeah that figure for

Yeah that figure for reminders is probably accurate. And as the frequency drops off it just means you are not thinking about it for longer and then wham, you are right back into a trigger or reminder again, and the hurt and disappointment returns.

It's been a year plus since d-day and each trip to the potty in the middle of the night includes a little reminder - my spouse was unfaithful and choose another man for a season - what a sweet little downer to go with a little bio relief.

That's it!

Oh my gosh! Reading this just helped me so much. I am three years out of discovery of my husband's 12 year affair. I have told no one other than the counselor I see. A few other people found out, but no one I speak to about it. I am embarrassed and so full of shame this happened and I was unaware. All of his encounters took place on trips - very exotic trips that I believed were golf trips with "the guys" or work related trips. I still flood with regularity as I still find little reminders all over the house; hotel receipts tucked in a book, ticket stubs, souvenir pens or brochures, etc. It is excruciating. Now I realize the isolation has made this so much worse. Even our counselor has not been through this herself, and although she is very bright, its not the same as reading these blogs from someone who really "gets it."

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